I gave a lot of thought about what my first official recipe post would be and I decided it would be my fried rice recipe. This fried rice was one of the first things I cooked for other people and I got legitimate compliments from multiple people.
What I like most about fried rice is that you can take leftovers and turn it to a fresh new meal. Another great thing about fried rice is that a little bit of ingredients can go a long way. Growing up we never really had a shortage of frozen mixed veggies, day-old rice, eggs, and some leftover meat or seafood. Of course you can use fresh vegetables and rice and cook up some meat, but that ends up turning a 10-15 minute recipe to more of a 40-50 minute recipe just because of prep. Your choice, up to you, I’m sticking to the quick version. The only part of this recipe where I really went out of the way was the use of kale and that was because I bought a lot and had to find a way to use it all. That sucker needs to be triple-washed clean or you’ll be eating dirt. (Side note: When I rinse vegetables, I usually pour the water into a cheapo plastic pitcher I place near the sink that I use to water my plants and garden.)
Fried rice is a simple recipe but is actually really hard to execute correctly.
Eggs. Let’s talk about how you want to make your eggs. I’ve lately seen fancy recipes where they make the rice and top it with a sunny-side egg. The idea is you take the serving spoon and break the egg and the yolk runs into the rice making it taste richer and look shinier. I’ve always had my eggs scrambled in my fried rice growing up. Perfect for people who don’t like runny sunny-side up eggs and mixes in well with rice. Also, if you mess up making sunny-side up eggs, just say, “screw it” and turn those mistake eggs into scrambled eggs. No one is really going to know.
Rice. It’s preferred to use old cold rice because the starches harden the grains and the rice does turn to mush when you fry it up as you do when the rice is fresh and piping hot. If you decide to use fresh cooked rice, I recommend that it cools down where you don’t see steam rising.
Soy sauce. My rice is darker than stuff you seen in restaurants. I usually don’t see darker recipes like mine but that’s how I’ve had it at home. I usually use it more for the color than I do for salty “umami” element. If I want a little more saltiness, I’ll add salt if I’m happy with the color. Adjust to your liking. Don’t add too much or it’ll get mushy, too dark, and unappetizing.
Meat. This recipe doesn’t have meat but you can add anything you want. It’s preferred that it’s already cooked. That’s why using leftovers are rad. I’ve used the meat I’ve scraped off a rotisserie chicken carcass, that little bit of steak I couldn’t finish, that lone pork chop sitting in the fridge, char siu, Spam, hotdogs (yeah, I know. Don’t look at me like that), and a variety of sausages.
Before I get to the recipe I want to note that in Chinese cooking, ingredients are usually approximated and is usually described as “pinch of this” and “pinch of that.” I’ll try my best to add volumes to the ingredients.
Recipe (Feeds 2 on it’s own and maybe 4 as part of a meal):
Fried Rice with Kale
2 Cups leftover rice
2 or 3 leaves of kale (washed, stem removed, and torn into pieces)
1/4 Cup of frozen mixed vegetables (rinse to remove frost and drained)
1/8 Cup (Approx.) Soy Sauce. Adjust to color and taste.
1/4 Cup diced cooked, leftover meat of your choosing.
1 or 2 Teaspoons salt for the rice and a little sprinkle for the kale
1 or 2 dashes of white pepper
1 or 2 scallions, chopped
Heat the wok.
Scramble the egg to the point that it’s almost done and not watery. I like my egg to be soft and fluffy, but if you want a “meatier” feel, cooking the egg longer where it’s chewier is also alright. Set aside.
Take the drained kale and saute on high 3-5 minutes with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Still on high, saute frozen vegetables for 1-2 minutes. Enough to warm it up. Add meat (if applicable) and fry up for another 2-3 minutes.
On high heat still, add a about 2 tablespoons of oil to fry up the rice. When the oil is hot, add the leftover rice and mix the rice. Make sure most of the rice gets oiled up and makes contact with the wok. Leftover rice will clump. Flatten down the clumps with a spatula to separate the grains without breaking them.
Remember to keep mixing.
When rice is nice all loosey-goosey and clump-free, add the soy slowly at a time. Try to pour is a circular manner instead of one spot. There’s a technique that Chinese chefs use where they shake their spatula over the rice left and right and pour the soy on the spatula. The soy will then splash on the spatula and it’ll appear like it’s raining on the rice. Sushi chefs have the same technique they use with vinegar when they make sushi rice. It helps spread the soy to more grains instead of one concentrated spot. This is to your taste. If you don’t want to add it all, you don’t have to. Mix to coat the grains till it’s an even color.
Add salt to your liking.
Dash of white pepper. I like white pepper in Chinese cooking. It’s not as robust as black pepper but is a little brighter and sweeter.
Here comes the finish line. Add the kale, eggs, and chopped scallion and stir to mix and warm them up in the rice. See, that’s it. Now you have a quick, easy, meal.
When you get the recipe down, you can add other ingredients, but don’t go too overboard or it’ll get too convoluted. I’ve throw in ingredients like raisins, dried apricots, pineapple, cabbage, lettuce, leftover swarma, and nuts.